Terry Pratchet, My Stepfather, And All The Stories We are

I’m getting tired of writing these “a great influence on geek” has passed articles.  I’m tired of writing about people lost.

We lost Terry Pratchett last week. The man behind Discworld, a person who took satire into that realm of homage and exploration, a great writer, and a great person. It’s hard to explain or honor everything he meant to people.

Me I’ve got a Pratchett story that really illustrates what he did.

I discovered the Discworld books back in the 80’s, in college. I had experienced fantasy parody before, with Myth Adventures and the Ebenezum “trilogy”, but Discworld was it’s own thing. More a parody than Myth Adventures, more respectful than a simple joke, it was something different. If anything is similar to it today, it’s The Venture Brothers and Galaxy Quest.

So of course it was funy, but it was also insightful and extremely well written. Pratchett’s books were little bundles of writing lessons on to of being damned good reads. His ability to make you laugh and think with just a few words was amazing. Such enlightening twists of language, such wit, was an influence on my own writing

(The other influences, if you must know, were Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, and Dave Barry.)

Pratchett was there with me for decades. Always amusing, always insightful, always amazing.

Now that he’s gone, we have stories.

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You May Have a Job – But Do You Have a Life?

You have a great job.  A fantastic job.  You love what you do.  You love what you make.  You hate to leave work – and probably don't really leave as much as people may think.

If you're a progeek (such as myself) of course that's kind of a holy career grail – the job you love that embodies all your interests.

However you may have the ideal job – but do you have a life?

This of course is often a massively loaded question for us progeeks and profans – our goal is to turn our hobbies into our careers.  We may not have a life to some people as we're geeks and otaku, but we often have quite a diverse and interesting life – and turning what we love into jobs would seem to make our lives even more, well, lifelike.

That can be wrong.  We get it wrong on scale.

A job is what we do to earn a living and do something we (hopefully) consider important in our society and community.

A career is the path of our jobs, of our professional development.  It's a the arc, the progress, we make in manifesting what we like to do and care about.

A life is the entire big picture, how everything comes together.  It is our past and our future, it is what we care about and do.  It is, in short, who we are.  "Having a life" means having something that matters to us, that has context and meaning, a past and a future.

You can have a "life" and be an introvert off writing code or books or what have you – if that truly is part of an overall, fulfilling life.  You can be a genius on a job you love – but with no arc to your career and no sense of the bigger picture, it's really shallow and meaningless.  The stereotypical nerd off writing amazing code with few friends may indeed be more happy than someone beloved, famous, and facing a meaningless life.

Having a life is one where what we do, who we know, our careers, and our job come together to make something meaningful to us, something that's part of the even bigger picture – of what and who we care about, and of what matters to us.  It's the history of our development and growth as people, where we know why we do what we do and how we'll get where we want to go.

So you may have a job.  But don't mistake it for a life.

– Steven Savage